Renting vs. Buying TV Shows

by James Wallace Harris, 1/29/23


  • Streaming services keep raising their prices
  • Content is spread over more competing streaming services
  • 99% of the content is not something I want to watch
  • Favorite TV series keep switching services
  • Some of my favorite TV shows aren’t streaming
  • It’s hard for two or more people to limit subscriptions

For some reason, I can’t get into watching TV anymore. I flip through Netflix, HBO Max, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Apple TV+ regularly trying to find something I can watch. But I quit most shows after five minutes. I’m ready to give up on streaming TV. I mainly watch YouTube Premium which is $11.99 I think. I definitely get my money’s worth there since I watch a lot of YouTube channels and I hate commercials.

Susan on the other hand, cross-stitches all day long watching all her old favorite TV shows over and over again in the background. But we’re paying about $60 a month for streaming services for Susan to watch those same old TV shows over and over. That seems wasteful.

Of the five TV shows and movies Susan currently has on repeat mode (Friends, Andy Griffiths, MASH, Harry Potter movies, and Gilmore Girls) we already own all of them except MASH on DVD or Bluray. There are a few other shows Susan will put on sometimes, like Gray’s Anatomy and How I Met Your Mother. She does change things up sometimes but not that often and with not that many shows.

Anyway, I was wondering if it would be cheaper to buy the complete series of TV shows she likes and rip them to Plex than to subscribe to all those streaming services? Plex is a program for creating your own customized streaming service. You convert your DVDs to files that are stored on a computer. You run a Plex server program on that computer to fetch the files, and a Plex app on your smart TV, Fire Stick, Roku, or other streaming device to play them. Plex acts like any other streaming service but it shows you what’s on your computer. It can also play music files, show photographs, or videos you made yourself, or stream content from the web if pay for the premium Plex service.

Right now, Amazon has all 11 seasons of MASH for $54. If we canceled all the streaming services we’d pay for it in one month. How I Met Your Mother is $43. The Big Bang Theory is $73, which is another favorite of Susan’s watches from time to time. I doubt Susan would add more than another six or eight series in the coming years. Since she doesn’t try new series, she’s not gaining any old favorites.

The downside of Plex is the time it takes to rip all the DVDs and the price of the server and hard drive. I have old equipment that works for now that costs me nothing. However, it might be nice to buy a new little mini-PC and a very fast SSD to make it fast to rip and copy files. Playing files from my old 5th-generation NUC is very fast. I’m thinking even with new equipment we’d be saving money in less than a year. Or I could buy a fast DVD/BD drive for my main computer which is a 12th generation NUC and rip the DVDs there.

We stopped watching our DVDs and Blurays because it’s annoying to use them, especially after the convenience of streaming. However, if I took the time to rip them, they would be as convenient to watch as streaming. I stopped watching Perry Mason in the 7th season. I could finish that series if I could get back into the mood of watching that show. I have all the discs. In fact, I have complete series of several old TV shows. Plus we have hundreds of favorite movies we could put on Plex too.

Maybe we don’t need streaming services anymore. It’s gotten rather annoying how streaming services keep raising their prices and offering even more shows we don’t want to watch.

Idea #1

What would be great is a streaming service that offers just all the old TV shows for $9.99 a month. It’s all those new movies and original content that are rising the prices. Spotify gives me access to nearly all music for $9.99 a month, so why couldn’t some streaming service for old TV? The trouble is there are too many streaming companies wanting us to subscribe.

Idea #2

If Amazon sold digital complete series for the same price as DVD sets I’d buy them because streaming from Amazon Prime is easier than maintaining a Plex server. The complete Friends on DVD is $53. But it’s $200 to buy all ten seasons digitally. Amazon should promote building digital libraries which they house. I bought the complete Andy Griffith Show for Susan on Amazon and she plays it every day.

Idea #3

The owners of TV shows should sell the complete series on USB drives. A $15 drive must be far cheaper than producing all those DVDs. That way people could buy the USB drive and easily copy the shows to their media servers like Plex. That would be far more convenient than ripping DVDs. Or they could sell a complete series as a download.

The reason why people are cutting the cord with cable is they’re tired of spending a lot of money for a lot of shows they don’t watch. Streaming services are getting like cable used to be – expensive and full of unwanted content. I’d much rather buy movies and TV shows and put them on my own server.


We could always subscribe to one streaming service at a time to have some new content to supplement the old content we’re buying. We spend very little going out. And we don’t go on vacations. Hell, we used to go to the movies once or twice a week before the pandemic. So four or five streaming services are much less than that. They are a bargain. And they are convenient. But I’m getting so tired of seeing hundreds of shows I don’t want to watch and thinking I’m paying for something we don’t use.

Let’s see how I feel after ripping a couple hundred discs. It might not be practical. But it’s kind of fun creating my own streaming service.


14 thoughts on “Renting vs. Buying TV Shows”

        1. By the way, what programs do use to rip discs? And which file format do you like?

          I started with using MakeMVK and just used that file format. But they are large files so I’ve been experimenting with Handbrake to make smaller mp4 files. But that’s a lot of work.

          I’m looking for a great program that rips everything directly to mp4. I’m thinking about WinX.

          1. I wish WinX would give us a full version for a trial. I tested the trial version and the 5 minute rips seemed very fast but they didn’t look good. I’d like a full version to thoroughly test. Even the $60 lifetime price is good if it worked well. The $39 yearly price is out of the question.

            I’m using Handbrake on my MakeMVK files to make them smaller.

  1. Yes, the streaming services nickel & dime you. We have Netflix, Disney+, Apple TV+, and AMAZON Prime Video. You would think that was enough, but Diane wanted to watch POKER FACE on PEACOCK so we signed up for that (but we’ll drop it as soon as we watch the series). Like you, I’m dissatisfied by many of the programs on our cable system. I used to watch the CW for the DC superhero programs, but now THE FLASH is bowing out and the rest have been cancelled. Now CW stands for “CAN’T WATCH” for me.

  2. Just a thought in case you haven’t seen it – there’s a free (ad supported) streaming service called Tubi. It has tons of “vintage” movies and tv shows. I’m more likely to watch Netflix, but sometimes I watch an old b&w program from the 40s or 50s. Probably not your cup of tea, but Susan might enjoy browsing their catalog. The ads are generally 60 seconds and not too obnoxious.

    1. I watch Tubi and a fee other free streaming services. I have to really want to see the show because of the commercials.

      We ended up signing up for Peacock because they have a deal for $29.99 for one year. It has tons of old TV show. It also has commercials but they aren’t oppressive.

        1. They have some good current movies including Tar and She Said which are up for Oscars. And Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris which is a lot of fun.

          I find Peacock more appealing because it has more stuff for older folks.

  3. I would imagine a lot would depend on the ease of usage for Susan, in comparison to the way the streaming services are now. Does Plex offer the content in such a way that it is as user-friendly as streaming services?

    I have to admit, there are many times I’ve just bought movies/tv series on Amazon Prime over the years simply because a) I knew if I rented them I’d end up spending money again some other time, and b) I didn’t want to walk downstairs to dig through the DVDs or blurays to find them. So much quicker to just purchase and watch, though not the most wise thing to do financially.

    The thing I like about streaming services is the ease of shutting them off and turning them back on. We try, not always successfully, to rotate them through and just watch everything we want on one before canceling and firing up another, while keeping Prime and YouTube Premium on all the time. But that works for us more because of the way we watch tv. We don’t go back and watch too many old popular shows. We turn off and on AcornTV and Britbox throughout the years as new series of shows we love get added, then once we’ve watched through them, we cancel. Same with Netflix. I like to fire up Netflix during the Christmas season as we watch a lot of their Christmas selections, and then dump it and maybe only fire up for a month in the summer to catch other things we like.

    We need to be much more disciplined about this, as we still waste money not turning things off and on more efficiently.

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